Posts Tagged ‘neurons’

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“2014’s Nobel Prize Co-Winner” – Podcast 13: Edvard Moser

Have you ever wondered what language your brain speaks when it talks to itself? I don’t mean your inner monologue – I mean the coded messages that your brain uses to collect, analyze, and make predictions about your environment. What would it feel like to decode even a small fraction of the signals flashing back […]

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The Best Free Online Neuroscience Courses

I have a confession to make: I never formally studied neuroscience. Actually, I freely admit this fact to anyone who asks – and the most frequent follow-up question I get is, “Then how did you teach yourself enough about neuroscience to write about it professionally?” The answer is that I took what’s known as the […]

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“Using Light to Talk With Neurons” – Podcast 12: Michael Hausser

On Episode 12 of The Connectome Podcast, Ben talks with Michael Hausser, a researcher who reads and writes information to and from brain cells with laser signals. This area of neuroscience – known as optogenetics – is one of the fastest-moving fields in science today, and Hausser and his team are on the cutting edge […]

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“2013’s Nobel Prize Winners” — Podcast 11: James Rothman, Randy Schekman & Thomas Südhof

On Episode 11 of The Connectome Podcast, I’m joined by all three of 2013’s Nobel Prize winners in the Physiology/Medicine category — James Rothman, Randy Schekman and Thomas Südhof! All three of these guys contributed crucial pieces to a longstanding puzzle: How, exactly, do our brain cells communicate with each other? See, biologists had known […]

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The Top 5 Neuroscience Breakthroughs of 2013

If 2012 was the year neuroscience exploded into pop culture, 2013 was the year it stepped into the halls of power. The Obama administration’s $100-million BRAIN Initiative stirred up furious debate, as proponents cheered to see so much funding and press attention thrown at large-scale efforts to map the human brain, while opponents claimed that the […]

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The Search for a Nobel Prize-Winning Synapse Machine

In this article for Scientific American, I talk with all three winners of 2013’s Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, about the paths that led them to victory. Where did their scientific careers start? Did they have any idea they’d be working in this area of research, let alone discover something as profound as they […]

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The Neuroscience Revolution Will Be Crowdsourced

In this article for Scientific American, I dig into one of my very favorite scientific projects: The Human Connectome Project at MIT. What’s the deal with all this excitement? What exactly are these researchers trying to accomplish? And how close are they to accomplishing it? The answers to all these questions may surprise you. Once humans […]

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A Secret Society of Cells Runs Your Brain

In this article for Scientific American, I talk about a new study that discovered some surprising things about a class of brain cells that’ve long been assumed to sit silently. Oligodendrocytes aren’t neurons – they’re support cells; and for a long time, their exact behavior was a mystery. Now, researchers are discovering that they take a much […]

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Three Big Doubts About Brain-Mapping Efforts

Neuroscience research has come a hell of a long way since the days of scalpels and electrodes. While some research teams are exploring the molecular machinery that churns at the hearts of nerve cells, others are working to assemble wiring diagrams for whole regions of the human brain. Just as biological science never looked the […]

The largest scale effort is the Human Connectome Project, involving a consortium of institutions here and abroad

Why Brain-Mapping Efforts Matter

In this article for Scientific American, I tackle some common criticisms of big brain-mapping projects like the Human Connectome Project and the Brain Activity Map. Are they too complex to be feasible in our lifetimes? Maybe so. Do we even know exactly what we’re trying to achieve? It isn’t always precisely clear. But I argue […]

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